In the latest show of force by opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, a group of 150 major Democratic donors sent a letter Friday to President Obama, urging him to reject the controversial application from TransCanada for permission to send more than 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.
The signatories comprise business leaders, philanthropists and celebrities—including clean energy entrepreneurs Vinod Khosla, Jigar Shah and Steve Kirsch, long-time Obama bundler Wendy Abrams and actress Blythe Danner.
"We urge you to proclaim with clarity and purpose that our nation will transition away from carbon-based fossil fuels to job creating clean energy," the letter said. "As challenging as this may be, the costs pale in comparison to the human consequences of unchecked climate disruption."
Betsy Taylor, president of Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions, who organized the effort over the last few weeks, has been working with a growing network of donors for the last year. She said the majority of donors who signed the letter gave the maximum allowable amount to the Obama campaign and the Democratic party in both 2008 and 2012, and a number of them also bundled or raised additional funds. They have also raised the Keystone issue directly with the president, with the Obama for America campaign, and with administration officials, she said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada will visit the United States next week to intensify efforts to secure approval of the pipeline. A decision is not expected before late summer or in the fall, at the earliest.
"The White House is being besieged each and every day by TransCanada, the Harper government and fossil fuel interests," Taylor said. "Running away from big challenges is not the American way. I remain hopeful that President Obama will deny the Keystone XL permit and step up to the climate challenge."
In an e-mail to the Washington Post, White House spokesman Clark Stevens declined to comment on what the administration would decide to do about Keystone.